Richard Joseph and his twin brother Antony, design director, founders of Joseph Joseph explain huge success in kitchenware design. It was an unlikely place to find inspiration for the beginning of a multimillion-pound business. But there, stuck behind a glass case in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and having already failed to take off from the shelves of department stores in the United States, Richard Joseph saw what was to become the cornerstone of a new family venture – a chopping board. Then called the “No-Spill” cutting board, the white kitchen aid stood apart in that it could be folded at an angle into a chute so that all the food that was chopped would flow straight into the pot, an idea which had failed to draw the attention of consumers when it was designed about 25 years ago.
That same board, in different colours and sizes and with a few design tweaks, is now known as the Chop2Pot and has become a calling card for Joseph Joseph, the British kitchenware brand which reinvents how mixing bowls, tongs and knives look and function. “It got lost, it didn’t stand out in the store,” said Antony Joseph, the other half of Joseph Joseph and non-identical twin to Richard, who says that the simple chopping board has gone on to sell millions since it became the their first major product to market 10 years ago.
Since then the London-based company has grown to over 80 people with 400 products, ranging from a compact tin opener and a square colander to individually coloured boards labelled fish, meat and vegetable, to avoid cross-contamination, and a compact foldable weighing scales. Behind the range is a bid to blend design and fresh functional ideas for everyday products, said Antony. Another hallmark product is the Nest, a collection of bowls and measuring cups which stack inside each other for space saving. “It is not just about functional ideas.
That is key, that is the starting point, but it is how we marry it with a really distinctive aesthetic and colour in a lot of cases and how the two come together and how the product communicates to the consumer so that when people look at it, they get it,” said Antony, who heads up the design end of the partnership while his brother controls the business side. The pair, both of whom studied design at college, came together in their late 20s to reinvigorate a side of their father’s glassware business which was selling glass chopping boards. With new designs – the glassware is still for sale today – the pair dropped clocks and plates which were part of their range to focus solely on the kitchen at around the same time as Richard had a eureka moment in New York.
Other chopping boards such as Cut&Carve, which has grips to hold meat in place and rims around the side to keep in liquids, and the Index coloured boards – influenced by similar products in industrial kitchens – were quickly added but failed at the time to interest establishment retailers such as John Lewis. This lack of success pushed the brothers abroad to find new customers elsewhere, in turn opening up fresh markets which now account for 80% of sales.
The brothers work with up to 30 designers, half of them in house, to come up with new ideas for products, of which about 40 are launched a year. Each product takes between two and three years to go from idea to being on the shelf, meaning careful planning is necessary in an attempt to spot “macro-trends” which will emerge in the future, said Richard. “It is different with all of the products. Sometimes we will have a very clear idea of what we want and we have identified an opportunity and we will brief that to the designer.
Sometimes we will say ‘we would like to get into [for example] colanders, we think that colanders will fit well into our range, lets investigate colanders’,” said Antony. Theese products are on mid to high end of the price range. The set of Index chopping boards come in at £48 while a carousel of utensils is £55, although a number of individual utensils come in at under £10. It is unlikely that these will be stocked in the mass market supermarkets, said Antony, although some of the range is available in Waitrose.
“We are happy where we are,” he says. John Lewis is now their biggest customer in the UK. Where the brothers are not happy having to defend their products against counterfeits, some blatant, others having implemented minor alterations. They fought a two-year legal battle in China to get the name Joseph Joseph back after a factory registered it as theirs. British companies have also been found to have copied the products, said Richard.
“The quality is bad and then we start getting customers thinking it is our product and calling our customer service so if you are not on top of it, this can be quite dangerous as far as the brand is concerned.” Cultural differences have played a part in placing products abroad. They were quickly alerted to the fact that the Japanese generally do not eat cheese or mashed potatoes during a presentation, leaving the potato masher and grater largely redundant – although the brand has proved particularly successful there and in the US out of the 105 countries they now sell in, mostly through third-party distributors.
The company is evenly split between the two brothers, who are separated in two different buildings in their Southwark headquarters. Although they have been confined to the kitchen thus far, it is likely that they will soon extend to other parts of the home, said Richard. “Life is getting faster, whether it is your groceries delivered [or] your Amazon delivery, convenience is just speeding everything up. More and more people are living in cities and therefore space is a premium and an expense. I think when you buy a house, you are buying the luxury of space and so it is a case of can we make life more efficient,” he said.
What makes Joseph Joseph products different? Joseph Joseph products are dictated by “functional ideas and how they are married with the aesthetic” according to Antony Joseph. Mostly known for their foldable chopping boards, from which vegetables can be tipped into a pan, their nest of bowls and measuring cups and a square colander have also become notable stamps of the company. They are also known for space-saving devices such as utensils which pack neatly on top of each other in a stand, spatulas, palette knifes and ladles that use a weighted handle to avoid being placed on the countertop, thus saving cleaning. ( Source: TheGuardian.com ) For more information, follo the link below.